At least you weren’t actually tea-bagged. Have you ever been tea-bagged?

I groaned even louder this time, replying: O.M.G. Seriously…I’m done.

I laid my phone down after receiving that last reply from her, cleaned up my coffee mess, and went to get ready, intending to ignore my phone and any other crude questions Allie may come up with.

I let my mind wander while I showered and it immediately went back to Saturday night when Brandon had busted into my room to wake me up. My belly immediately dipped, desire flooding my veins as I remembered the very impressive length of him outlined under his boxer briefs. And then the kiss…and the feel of his fingers digging into my hips. Oh, God, to feel him doing that while he thrust into me!

Ugh! On a growl, I slapped the water off and toweled off vigorously, cursing myself for getting all worked up before stomping to my room to get dressed.

Three hours later, I was working on pricing some new stuff Allie had gotten in when the bells chimed on the door. I glanced up and smiled as Allie’s Nanny came through the door, an old farmer’s hat smashed down on her head and a pair of ratty overalls on over a t-shirt, with the pant legs rolled up.

“Where’s my lily-girl?” she asked in her gravelly voice, coming over and kissing me on the cheek.

“She had a doctor’s appointment today, Nanny. She’ll be in later. Did you need something?”

In the months I’d been working at the store, Nanny (on pain of being slapped silly, I’d been told to call her Nanny, too) had taken to stopping by even more frequently now that Allie was pregnant. From what I’ve been told, she’d also started stopping by Skin Deep to see Emma, too, and everyone there was getting a big kick out of her. How could you not, though? You never know what you’re gonna get…one minute she’s a happy little bird, and the next, Tank is on the loose!

Nanny shrugged and meandered over toward the lingerie section, trying to look nonchalant. I pretended not to see, as usual, as I listened to her. “Nope. Just got bored piddle-fucking around in the garden, so I thought I’d come see my girls.”

I couldn’t help it. As soon as she said ‘fuck,’ my mind immediately whispered the same thing Allie’s whole family does every time they hear her. ‘Aaaawww…Nanny said fuck!’

She snorted and I moved a little so I could see her better. She’d picked up a vintage teddy of champagne lace and was holding it up to her bony little chest. She shook her head and muttered, “Who wears white anymore? Bunch of damn sluts running around. Need some black lace…now that’s sexy!”


I cleared my throat and asked her, “Where’s Poppy?”

She moved away from the lingerie toward the romance book rack, a guilty pleasure she shared with her daughter and granddaughter both, though neither she nor Allie’s mom would admit it. Allie, on the other hand, didn’t care who knew that she read them.

“Oh,” she croaked out. “He got all hot and bothered by me in my gardening getup and then exhausted himself with the wheelbarrow.”

I laughed. “So you working in the garden made him work, too, huh?”

She looked at me like I was crazy. “Lord, child, no! You know, the wheelbarrow, where I put my hands down and he lifts me up and wraps my legs around his waist upside down and…” She started motioning with her arms and hips.

“Nanny! Look at the time! I have to get the inventory done!” I yelled, trying to cut her off before I ended up needing to scour my ears with bleach any more than I already did.

She peered down at her wristwatch and sighed. “Hmpfh. I guess I’ve left Daisy sitting out there long enough.”

“You…Allie’s mom is in the car?” I asked, trying to keep the incredulity out of my voice.

The door chimed again and Allie’s mom walked in, Brandon following behind.

What the…what?

“Hooey!” Nanny crowed. “There’s my hot body! You decide you wanna try this ol’ filly, yet?” she asked him, winking and waggling her eyebrows at him crazily.

He laughed, tactfully ignoring her offer, and grabbed her up into a hug, jumping when she pinched his ass as he moved away. Allie’s mom, Daisy, shook her head and rolled her eyes at her mom’s behavior.

“Mom, are you ready to go? I thought you just needed to come in and get something Allie was holding for you?” She looked around. “Where is my daughter?”

Nanny interjected, explaining what I’d already told her. Daisy looked confused. “She doesn’t have a doctor’s appointment today. She doesn’t go until next week on Tuesday.”

Aaaaand now I’m suspicious.

I just shrugged it off and hugged them both goodbye, laughing again as Brandon masterfully evaded Nanny’s grabby claws and hugged her before they left.

Once the bell chimed their departure, Brandon turned to me and said, “Okay. Let’s do this. I have to be back at the shop by two, but you have me until then.”

Huh? I stared at him, completely lost.

He sighed. “Allie called and said she needed me to come down and move some boxes for you. She had to run into the city with Jacks for something…but you said she had a doctor’s appointment?”

I nodded very slowly as he cocked his head, confusion now becoming clear on his face.

“Uh, so do you have boxes that need moved?” he asked, cautiously. I could see that he was starting to work things out a little bit.

I shook my head. He groaned.

“I think we’ve been set up,” he said on a sigh.

I looked at him helplessly, shrugging one shoulder. What could I say?

His phone rang in his pocket, breaking the silence stretching between us. He dug it out and answered. “Hello? Yes, Allie.” A pause. “No, I…okay. Yeah, that’s fine.” Another pause. “I don’t know, I’ll ask, I guess.” He paused once more, listening intently, and then must have decided to interject. “Hey, Allie. While I’ve got you on the phone, why the hell did you say Chloe needed help--” He turned to look at me, shock written across his face.

“She hung up on me. She literally made noises like her phone was cutting out, told me her phone was breaking up, and hung up on me! That little…”

I moved away from him, grabbing a stack of books to add to the rack. “I guess you can go on back to the shop, then. I’m sorry about…” I gestured vaguely before continuing, “all of this. I don’t know what the hell she’s doing.”

“Yeah, I guess I will go back. Shit was weird today, right? Not just me?” he asked.

“Totally weird. Not just you, I promise,” I answered.

“Oh, Allie wanted me to ask if you would come to dinner at Emma’s house tonight with me. Emma apparently is feeling like the group hasn’t spent much time together lately, and wants me to bring you. Not sure why Emma didn’t call you, or even me, for that matter, but whatever.”

“Uhhh…I guess? I can just meet you there, though. You don’t have to pick me up, I’ll just come directly after I close up the store this evening.”

He didn’t fight me on it, not that I thought he would, gave me a wink, a quick smile, and he was gone. I thumped my head down on the counter in front of me, cursing Allie and Emma and their interfering under my breath.